Police fingerprinting for criminal charges at Municipal court is improper and illegal, claim Montreal activists in court motion

Media Advisory – Attention News Editors

Police fingerprinting for criminal charges at Municipal Court is improper and illegal, claim Montreal activists

Judge to rule on motion to destroy all fingerprints ever taken in relation to cases at Montreal's Municipal Court, and forbid fingerprints in future cases

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When: Friday, September 30, 2016, 9:30am 
Where: Montreal's Municipal Court, 775 rue Gosford

Contacts: 

– Jaggi Singh, self-represented defendant, member of Contempt of Court: Legal Clinic By and For Social Movements (438-823-7243 / outrageautribunal@riseup.net
– Alexander Tandel, City of Montreal prosecutor (514-872-8386 / alexander.tandel@ville.montreal.qc.ca) 
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(September 27, 2016, Montreal) — Local activist and community organizer, Jaggi Singh, will be presenting a court motion claiming that all fingerprinting and photographs for summary criminal charges at Montreal's Municipal Court is improper and illegal.

The motion, brought forward by Singh as a self-represented defendant with the support of other local activists, will be heard this Friday, September 30 at 9:30am at Montreal's Municipal Court in front of Judge Randall Richmond. Singh is refusing to provide any fingerprints to the Montreal police for a recent criminal charge.

Singh was arrested, with 17 other co-accused, on May 3, 2016, after an occupation of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offices. He was charged with mischief and ordered to appear later for fingerprints at Montreal police's Centre Operationnel Sud. Singh initially offered to provide fingerprints, but the police refused to take them because of his refusal to answer any questions beyond providing name, address and date of birth. On further study of the Identification of Criminals Act, as well as related laws and jurisprudence, Singh discovered that fingerprints cannot be taken, even in the case of a conviction, for summary criminal offences.

"The police and Montreal prosecutors have been taking fingerprints and photos from criminal defendants at Municipal Court, improperly and illegally, for decades," states Singh. "My motion this Friday argues that the practice of fingerprinting and photographs must stop, and all fingerprints previously taken, from potentially tens of thousands of defendants, should be destroyed. No one can be compelled to offer fingerprints if their charges are at Montreal's Municipal Court."

Singh is a member of Contempt of Court: Legal Clinic By and For Social Movements, which has helped with research in this case. According to a member of the group: "There is a really good case to be made that the police should not fingerprint people in municipal courts in Quebec because case law shows that cases at municipal court are considered a Crown election to pursue a hybrid offence by summary conviction, and according to the Supreme Court's R v Dudley 2009, the offence is, therefore, 'treated in all respects as a summary conviction offence', and this necessarily excludes the taking of fingerprints."

Singh's written motion, to be presented Friday, is available online at: www.solidarityacrossborders.org/wp-content/uploads/YouCantTakeMyFingerprints.pdf

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Source: Contempt of Court: Legal Clinic By and For Social Movements

Contacts: 

Jaggi Singh, self-represented defendant, member of Solidarity Across Borders and Contempt of Court: Legal Clinic By and For Social Movements 
e-mail: outrageautribunal@riseup.net

The prosecutor in this case, representing the City of Montreal and the police, is Maître Alexander Tandel.